How AI Will Impact the Global Economy

Since the dawn of computing, artificial intelligence (AI) has always seemed like it was just around the corner. Despite significant and ongoing advances in machine learning and algorithms, it wasn’t quite ready for prime time.

But the situation is changing rapidly. New research from Accenture indicates that the technology is taking shape—and it will impact business and the economy in a big way in the coming years. According to the study, AI has the potential to double annual economic growth rates and boost productivity by up to 40 percent by 2035.

“AI is poised to transform business in ways we’ve not seen since the impact of computer technology in the late 20th century,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer at Accenture.

The researchers modeled the impact of AI for 12 developed nations that together generate over half of the world’s economic output. They found that AI is poised to positively transform the way work is done by humans and computers.

This is good news for organizations that can take advantage of the technology. If true, it also bodes well for society. It’s no secret that a growing number of technologists, economists and others are concerned about how technology, and more specifically AI and robotics, could impact jobs in the years ahead.

Among the key findings:

*In the US, AI could increase the annual economic growth rate from 2.6 percent to 4.6 percent by 2035, translating to an additional USD $8.3 trillion in gross value added (GVA). With AI, Japan has the potential to more than triple its annual rate of GVA growth by 2035 and Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria could see their growth rates double.

*With AI, the US could increase its labor productivity by 2035 by 35 percent compared to expected baseline productivity levels. In Finland, AI could increase labor productivity by 36 percent and by 37 percent in Sweden.

*The productivity increase dramatically reduces the number of years required for the economy to double in size. In the U.S., it goes from 27 years, to just 15 years. In Japan, AI reduces the number of years from 83 to just 26, and in Germany from 48 to 23 years.

Of course, AI will also serve up a tangle of challenges. It will require new thinking about the boundaries between human and machine intelligence and a re-examination of ethics. It will also demand new laws and regulations.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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